Roberta Pergher

Associate Professor, Department of History; Director, Institute for European Studies

Department of History

IU; IU Bloomington

Full Biography

My research interests in modern European history have centered on fascism and colonialism, and most of my publications to date lie at the intersection of the two historiographies of Italian Fascism and of interwar imperialism. Within these broad areas, I have explored, among other topics, borderlands, hybridity, and sovereignty, as well as migration and everyday life, and have deployed a variety of methodologies including oral history.

At the core of my monograph, Mussolini's Nation-Empire: Sovereignty and Settlement in Italy's Borderlands, 1922-1943 (Cambridge University Press, 2017), is an interest in sovereignty and state power. The book explores how, in the light of new interwar norms of sovereignty and national selfdetermination, the Fascist regime sought to assert and consolidate its rule over contested regions at the antipodes of the Italian nation in newly annexed provinces in the North and in colonial territories across the Mediterranean in Libya. At the same time, the book asks how ordinary people made sense of, challenged, and rethought their place in society in the context of shifting territorial state boundaries and fluid collective identities.

My new research project, tentatively titled The Battle for the High Ground: Nationalism, Technology, and Nature on the Alpine Front in World War I, again revolves around borderlands and questions of belonging. It explores the Alpine front between Italy and Austria-Hungary in the First World War. Here too I am interested in the intersection between imperial and national histories, both in the way that people, whether soldiers or civilians, made sense of decisions made on high that profoundly affected their lives, and in the way that national and regional memories were created in the war’s aftermath. A common thread in Mussolini’s Nation-Empire and in the new project is thus the continuum of voices from “coal face” to cabinet room. What makes history come alive for me is the chance to explore individuals up and down the social ladder, and to explore the flows of ideas and power between village, nation-state, and empire.

Honors and Awards

  • Elizabeth and J. Richardson Dilworth Fellow, School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advance Study, Princeton, Spring 2013
  • Max Weber Fellow, European University Institute, Florence, Italy, 2008-2009
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies, University of Michigan, 2007-2008

Research Interests

  • Modern Europe with an emphasis on Italy and Germany
  • Fascism
  • Imperialism
  • World War I
  • Migration and population settlement
  • Borderlands
  • Comparative and transnational history
  • Oral history


  • Ph.D. History, University of Michigan, 2007
  • M.A. International Studies, University of Denver, 2000
  • B.A. Economics and Women’s Studies, University of Denver, 1998

Courses Taught

  • Modern Europe
  • Inside Nazi Germany
  • European Empires
  • World War I



  • Beyond Versailles: Sovereignty, Legitimacy, and the Formation of New Polities after the Great War. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2019 (co-edited with Marcus Payk).
  • Mussolini's Nation-Empire: Sovereignty and Settlement in Italy's Borderlands, 1922-1943. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2017.
  • In the Society of Fascists: Acclamation, Acquiescence and Agency. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012 (co-edited with Giulia Albanese).

Selected Articles and Book Chapters

  • “National Claims and the Rights of Others: Italy and its Newly Found Territories after the First World War,” in Beyond Versailles: Sovereignty, Legitimacy, and the Formation of New Polities after the Great War, edited by Marcus Payk and Roberta Pergher (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2019).
  • “An Italian War? War and Nation in the Italian Historiography of the First World War,” Journal of Modern History 90 (December 2018): 863–899.
  • “The Thin White Line: Remembering the Alpine Front in the First World War,” in Inside World War One? The First World War and Its Witnesses, edited by Richard Bessel and Dorothee Wierling (Oxford University Press, 2018), 119-142.
  • “Empire,” in Outside the State? The Politics of Everyday Life in Fascist Italy, edited by Joshua Arthurs, Michael Ebner, and Kate Ferris (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), 179-204.
  • “Settlement, Sovereignty, and Social Engineering. Fascist Settlement Policy between Nation and Empire,” in Settlers in Contested Lands, edited by Oded Haklai and Neophytos Loizides (Stanford University Press, 2015), 75-96.
  • “The Ethics of Consent—Regime and People in the Historiographies of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany,” Contemporary European History 24, no. 2 (2015), 309-315.
  • “Italy’s Colonial Past,” in Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Italy: History, Politics, and Society, edited by A. Mammone, E. G. Parini and G. A. Veltri (New York: Routledge, 2015), 327-337.
  • “The Holocaust—An Imperial Genocide?,” co-authored with Mark Roseman, Dapim—Studies on the Holocaust 27, no. 1 (2013), 42–49.
  • “Historians, Fascism, and Italian Society: Mapping the Limits of Consent,” co-authored with Giulia Albanese, in In the Society of Fascists, edited by Giulia Albanese and Roberta Pergher (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), 1-28.
  • “Staging the Nation in Fascist Italy’s ‘New Provinces’,” Austrian History Yearbook 43 (2012): 98–115.